I recently committed a major yoga mat sin. I gave my seven-year-old yoga mat a bath. In the past, I’d half-heartedly wipe my mat down with a damp cloth, but this was not enough to keep up with the accumulated grime of (almost) daily use.
So a bath seemed like a logical idea! I filled the tub with hot water and scrubbed my mat with an old rag soaked in dish soap. I felt proud of my efforts—even though the soaked mat seemed 3x as heavy and cumbersome, I pressed on, encouraged by the less-than-lovely color of the water. I was washing away so much dirt!
When I was confident I’d completely rinsed the soap out, I hung my may on the balcony to dry. After three(!) days, it was finally dry—and noticeably cleaner—so I resumed yoga-ing on it as usual.
Every thing was fine for the next few weeks. Over time, however, I noticed it had an off smell, a smell that didn’t jibe with my sun salutations. While my husband and I were in Austin, TX for the weekend, I popped into a yoga studio and store and asked one of the employees about mat care. As it turns out, I’m not the only yogi whose tried to bathe her mat. The clerk I spoke with told me about the time she destroyed a mat by putting it in the washing machine! She explained that if you tend to sweat on you mat, cleaning it at least once a week is a must, but the process is pretty simple. You can make a DIY mat spray with a few ingredients, including an antiseptic, spray your mat down, and wipe it dry with a towel. Easy enough!
When I parted ways with my beloved, now mildewy, yoga mat and replaced it with a new one, I vowed to clean it more regularly (like once a week) and never, ever give it a bath!
I poked around online a bit and was inspired to share my own DIY Yoga Mat Spray, so you, lovely readers, never find yourself giving your yoga mat a bath.
A Peaceful Mat: DIY Yoga Mat Spray Ingredients
A spray bottle that closes tightly—preferably made of dark glass to protect the essential oils. Any size will do, depending on how often you’d like to make a fresh batch of spray and change up your oils (see below).
2 parts water
1 part distilled vinegar or organic cider vinegar
1 part witch hazel (with as few added ingredients as possible)
Several drops of your chosen essential oil blend*
*For your essential oils, you can choose any blend of oils that have antiseptic or bactericidal properties—and just about all of them are antiseptics as far as I know. Tea tree, lavender, clary sage, clove, geranium, and lemon are all good choices. Because tea tree has such strong cleansing properties, I recommend using tea tree oil as the first oil you choose, and then add additional oils (if you’d like) based on the aromatherapy properties you desire. For example, frankincense is commonly associated with meditation, relieving stress, and slowing down the breath while oils like grapefruit and peppermint are more conducive to “awakening” your senses. Rose, also an antiseptic, is said to help open the Heart Chakra and inspire compassion. The possible combinations are endless. This article on blending essential oils by Growing Up Herbal is a must read for any essential-oil lover.
Put it all together.
To sanitize your spray bottle, dip the glass bottle (not the sprayer apparatus) in boiling water for two minutes. Using tongs, place it on a clean towel to dry. Mist the sprayer apparatus with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry.
Fill the bottle with 2 parts water, 1 part distilled vinegar (or organic cider vinegar), and 1 part witch hazel. If you’re not crazy about the smell of vinegar, just do equal parts water and witch hazel. Whatever combination of liquids you choose, leave a little room for the essential oils and the sprayer apparatus. Add several drops of essential oil. I am using a 1 oz. bottle, and I’m using ten drops of essential oil—but you can customize this. Seal tightly and shake.
What you’re ready to clean your mat, generously spray your mat down and allow the mixture to sit for a minute. Then, wipe your mat with a towel, and allow it to air out in a well-ventilated room or a shady spot outside.
Do you make your own Yoga Mat Spray? Do you have any mat cleaning insights?
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Photo: Mary Hood Luttrell